Soon, when you are at your Hartford HealthCare doctor’s office for a check-up, in addition to readings for your body temperature, heart rate or pulse, respiratory rate and blood pressure, you will also be asked about your physical activity.

Hartford HealthCare will be the first health system in New England, and one of only a handful in the nation, to incorporate this simple but important assessment into routine care. Patients will be asked a basic question about exercise: “How many days per week do you exercise? And for how long?”

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A multidisciplinary team led by Dale Bond, director of research integration, and Amanda Zaleski, director of the exercise physiology research laboratory, worked to integrate the new physical activity measure into Epic, Hartford HealthCare’s electronic medical record. The measure is called Physical Activity as a Vital Sign (PAVS), designed by the American College of Sports Medicine as part of its “Exercise is Medicine” initiative.

Only 25% of U.S. adults achieve adequate physical activity,” said Bond. “By adding PAVS to patients’ health history, we will be able to help patients and do additional research on how exercise impacts all facets of health.”

Guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (breathing hard but can carry on a conversation) or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity (a workout) each week. But research shows almost any amount, and any type, of exercise is beneficial to reducing diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, depression, osteoporosis and even dementia.